How insomnia affects the brain

The experiment was attended by 147 people aged 20 to 84 years. Scientists examined the quality and duration of sleep of each participant. The difficulties of falling asleep and the awakening of participants were also monitored.

Extreme and prolonged insomnia can lead to a number of mental disorders. Some people with long periods of lack of sleep experience disorientation, paranoia, and hallucinations. These types of symptoms can sometimes be a sign of schizophrenia.

As you already understood, sleep affects a huge number of processes in the body. Prolonged lack of sleep can negatively affect your emotional state and physical health. Therefore, if you suffer from insomnia, be sure to consult a doctor who will help solve this problem.

Throughout the study, the brain volume of volunteers was studied using MRI. The procedure was carried out 2 times with an interval of 3.5 years. As a result, it was noted that in 35% of participants with problem sleep, a decrease in brain volume was found. Scientists emphasize that withering predominantly occurred at the age of 60. In addition, prolonged lack of sleep is closely associated with hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, obesity and other problems, which we will discuss in more detail below.

High blood pressure

If you sleep less than 5-6 hours per night, then you are at an increased risk of hypertension. Because sleep helps our body regulate the hormones that cause stress, its deficiency can increase the effect of stress on the body. Prolonged lack of sleep was associated with increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and inflammation. All this creates an unnecessary burden on your heart.

Heart attack and stroke

Sleep deficiency leads to frequent cases of fatal cardiovascular diseases – heart attacks and strokes. Doctors and scientists believe that this is due to the fact that lack of sleep can disrupt the parts of the brain that control the circulatory system, or cause inflammation, which increases the likelihood of developing a blood clot.

Weight gain and obesity

The consequences of persistent sleep problems include rapid weight gain. Lack of sleep is associated with high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. The resulting anxiety, stress and frustration often contribute to emotional nutrition and unhealthy snacks. Another hormone called ghrelin is produced in the stomach and is associated with prolonged sleep deprivation. Excess ghrelin can constantly make you hungry.

Over time, lack of sleep negatively affects metabolism and eating habits. Fatigue often leads to an unhealthy craving for certain foods, accompanied by a decrease in stamina and physical activity. Studies have shown that people who regularly feel miserable are more likely to choose foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar.


Five hours of sleep is not enough for good health. Studies have shown that insomnia can disrupt the body’s mechanism for processing glucose, which cells use as fuel. This is why lack of sleep is considered a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Depression and anxiety

Most people feel irritable if they could not get enough sleep, but prolonged insomnia is associated with clinical depression. Conversely, patients with depression often have an irregular sleep schedule. Sleep cycles and mood are regulated by the hormone melatonin. In fact, low levels of melatonin are often found in people with depression and insomnia.

Anxiety and panic attacks are also a common reaction of people suffering from chronic sleep deficiency. Studies have shown that such people have a lower tolerance to even minor daily stressors. As with depression, it is sometimes difficult to understand what came before: anxiety or sleep disturbance.

Malfunctioning brain

After just one hectic night, we may experience clouding of the mind, fatigue, temper, and irritation. When the brain does not rest for a longer period of time, then mental abilities can decrease sharply.

We know that quality sleep is essential for concentration and learning ability, but it also affects our problem-solving skills and our ability to control emotions. People with insomnia also have problems with balance, reflexes and motor skills, as a result of which they are much more likely to get injured. Drowsiness is the most common cause of car accidents.

Immune System Disorders

Like the rest of our body, the immune system works best when we get enough sleep. Prolonged lack of sleep can increase stress levels, and this can reduce the response of antibodies and make you more vulnerable to the effects of the common cold and flu viruses.

Fertility decline

Sleep disorders can not only lower libido, but can also have a devastating effect on the ability to have children – for both men and women. The part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms also regulates the production of reproductive hormones. Regular lack of sleep can lead to lower levels of testosterone and hormones that cause ovulation, which seriously complicates the conception process.

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